North Down welcomed surprise second placed Larne to Comber last Saturday in what was a must win game for the Comber girls. With a full squad to choose from, Coach Frazer was determined that nothing less than three points would suffice.
Featuring a new formation and some positional changes North Down were on the attack straight from the first whistle. They pegged Larne back into their own half and took the lead after four minutes after great work by Captain Bex Mitchell-Cram and Tasha Adamson. They played a neat one two before Bex Mitchell squared the ball for Shannen White to shoot first time under the Larne keeper. One nil was quickly two nil. Again it was Mitchell-Cram who was the instigator. She broke through the Larne defence and shot from the top of the circle. With the shot going wide, Barbara Moles was in the right place to divert the ball into the unguarded net. Larne then had a chance of their own from a penalty corner. Having noted that this was how they scored most of their goals, the defensive team were focused on not conceding from these and they did just that with keeper Chrissie McKee producing a world class save to her right to keep the ball out.
North Down settled again and some of their forward movement was proving a real handful for the Larne defence. From one such move the third goal was scored by Rachel Lucas. Lauren Brown played a ball down the line into space for Barbara Moles to run onto, who in turn then squared it for Selina Lewis whose first time shot was saved by the Larne keeper, but Rachel Lucas was on hand to force the ball into the net with her first touch. The half finished with North Down leading 3-0 for the fourth time this season. The emphasis at the team talk was to continue the good work and forward movement and score a fourth goal early to put the game beyond Larne.
The second half began the same way as the first with North Down immediately on the attack. Ali Millar, playing in a forward role for the first time, skilfully beat a couple of players and fed Tasha Adamson who tucked the ball under the Larne keeper as she slid out to close her down. Four soon became five with another close range finish from poacher Lucas who pounced on a defensive mistake after good work by Rebecca Mercer. With Larne tiring, North Down sensed there were more goals up for grabs. Some chances for Shannen White to double her tally came and went and Larne then created a chance of their own, with Chrissie McKee stranded it was left to Rachel Mornin to clear the ball off the line and into safety.
With the North Down forward line continually interchanging and the Larne defence struggling with their movement and pace, the final goal game with ten minutes remaining as Bex Mitchell-Cram finally got on the score sheet with a sublimely finished team goal. This sixth and final goal rounded off North Down’s biggest win in a long time and sets them up in good form for the Irish Hockey Trophy match against Galway this weekend at Comber Leisure Centre at 2.30pm.
Player of the Match: Rebecca Mitchell-Cram